I left Alaska in April 1977, driving down the ALCAN (Alaska-Canadian Hwy) with my new husband and a family friend. I was almost 18 and filled with high hopes and big dreams; just like you probably were at that age. The world was our oyster and we went seeking the pearls. (I also made the trip, down and back, with my folks and siblings in the late 1960’s.)
Instead of pearls, all I found was Fool’s Gold, but that certainly didn’t stop me. Here I am, still watching for and gathering pearls for my basket.
“The memories that I conjure here are old pearls, made new,
and I’ll carefully nestle them back into their basket,
after I share them with you.”
Somewhere in the following 10 years there were one or two brief visits to Alaska. I think it was that first visit that sister Laura painted her guest room lavender for my few days with her. True sister love. I had a fun and silly birthday with party hats and noise makers at sister Sharon’s log cabin. I watched moose roam between her yard and our parent’s log cabin, within eyesight from Sharon and Tim’s window.
I’ve always known they loved me, but that year we had to put my schedule on calendars, to show who’s house I would be at and for how long. One year I used dad’s tools and garage to build and engrave wooden magazine racks for each family for Christmas.
In 1989 I returned to Alaska, with my infant and toddler in tow. That was the year of the Family Photo Shoot: two parents and 7 adult children with their partners, and 9? children. We had the photo shoot at sister Laura’s exercise studio. I don’t know who the photographer was, but I’m sure they found another line of work after that epic night.
That evening, I heard and loved the Christmas tune, “Jingle-Bell Rock,” for the first time and little Sina and Sara danced like crazy, making us all laugh. I remember everyone rushing around, and sister Ginny fluffed and sprayed our little daughter’s hairdos in the bathroom. I’m pretty sure sister Sharon funded the whole thing, and I know we all agreed that it was the best Christmas gift ever.
Another 18 years went by; my 2 children were off having children of their own and I was living with my late husband. 2007, 2010, 2011, and 2 times in 2012. My Alaska visits are beginning to look like a trend. Smile. I’ve spent time with my parents, my siblings and their children and grandchildren. Sister Michaela’s loss in 2012 has added a glaze of sadness over everything, but we have surely learned the value of family.
My basket of pearls overflows with my Alaska memories, but the Fool’s Gold stays tucked in the bottom as a gentle reminder of the caution needed in choosing paths wisely.
Probably my biggest wish is to be able to share Alaska, and our family there, with my children and their 4 children here. Sara and Jon have not been there since that one time, when they were too young to remember. My little grands have never been there. I would so love to see my little family here in Washington meet and share some special time with my big family in Alaska. I can just imagine the photo shoot THAT would be!
Thanks for hanging in there with me and this challenge of posting (Almost) Every Damn Day December.
***Internet/computer problems have severely hampered me getting this post written. It has already taken hours, just to get this far. I hope things are working better tomorrow, so I can share some more photos with you.
(Almost) Every Damn Day? Who’s idea was this anyway? The culprit can be found here: Every Damn Day December at http://treatmentofvisions.com/2013/11/26/evdadadec/
December 27, 2013 at 11:10 pm
I’ve always wanted to make that drive. It’s a fond dream of mine, probably not going to happen, but I can dream. I was married at 18 too. These young marriages rarely last a lifetime, but it was the right thing at the time and although the marriage only lasted 13 years, the friendship lasted until he died in 1993.
December 27, 2013 at 11:21 pm
Oh, boy, mine was way different. Bad guy. Five years of hell. But I agree with young marriages not lasting long, usually. My sis has been married to same man since they were teens.
December 28, 2013 at 8:39 am
Thanks for sharing your personal story Patti, you are certainly a pillar of strength! 🙂
December 28, 2013 at 9:05 am
Nah, jelly fish, really. Thanks for stopping by and being part of this family. I haven’t read your book yet, Debby, but I’m glad that you shared your story too. We’re both still standing and supporting each other—that’s the thing:>) The very cool thing! Hugs, P
December 28, 2013 at 10:07 am
That’s the important thing Patti. And my book will be going free one day in January so I will let you know so you can jump in! 🙂
December 28, 2013 at 10:12 am
Cool! I’d rather support your effort, but free does work really well with my budget:>)
December 28, 2013 at 11:44 am
I love that I get to know you more and more with each post, Patti.
December 28, 2013 at 11:54 am
Thanks, Luanne. I am an anomaly in my family, in that I have always been more open about my life than anyone on either side.
I try not to make them cringe, but my life experiences (good, bad & ugly) made me who I am. I like it when we share who we are.
Thanks for keeping in touch.
December 28, 2013 at 2:39 pm
Brilliant post, I did a similar thing in 2011 with two dogs in tow (Tibby and Charlie) I set out to drive Australia and enjoyed it. I did it on my own and relished in the experience . Love your story
December 28, 2013 at 3:46 pm
I love solitary travel. I bet Tibby and Charlie enjoyed the travels just as much as you did. Glad you loved my story and that you stopped in and said hi!
December 28, 2013 at 8:48 pm
Thank you for that with a few things happening this year and starting my new blog. I’ve had trouble keeping up
January 15, 2014 at 6:06 pm
Ummmm…I somehow missed this one in December, but found it searching my email files. Patti, there is a whole book in that first paragraph. Married at 17, traveling south from Alaska with husband (who was he? how old?) and friend (who?what sex?) Please send my pearls and fool’s gold, too. We learn a lot from that Fool’s Gold.
January 15, 2014 at 6:24 pm
Husband 19 and um evil. Took 5 years and a retreat to my family to shake that very bad experience. Friend, Tommy 18’ish, long-time family friend. Our mothers were best friends. We all ended up in WA and then TX. Long long story. Recently found out (with some relief) that 1st husband is dead and I can now stop looking over my shoulder. Fool’s Gold is messy, so I just eluded to it. Lots of lessons learned while young and innocent. No man (or woman) ever touched me in anger or threatened my life again. Hard lesson.